The Saturday Evening Post is a bimonthly American magazine. It was published weekly under this title from 1897 until 1969, and quarterly and then bimonthly from 1971.
Each issue featured several original short stories and often included an installment of a serial appearing in successive issues. Most of the fiction was written for mainstream tastes by popular writers, but some literary writers were featured. The opening pages of stories featured paintings by the leading magazine illustrators, and it also featured Poetry.
I am going to cover Illustrator Norman Rockwell’s contributions to the magazine in this blog and talk about his creations.
Below are some of The Saturday Evening Post covers issued in the 1940’s and illustrated by Norman Rockwell.
This photo of Rockwell appeared in the Post in 1943. By this time, the man at the easel had been doingSaturday Evening Post covers for twenty-seven years. The forties were a time of humor, anguish, the workplace, and kids being kids. This week: 1940s classics.
“The Gossips” – March 5, 1948
A great illustration tells a story, and we all know this tale. Don’t you hate when someone starts a rumor about you? Well, it happened to Rockwell and he didn’t like it one bit. But he had a weapon: a paintbrush and a platform viewed by millions: The Saturday Evening Post cover spot.
It’s fun to look at the expressions: some appalled, some relishing the scandal. Afraid he might offend his neighbors/models (love the lady in curlers and the guy in the bowler hat), Rockwell included his wife and himself among the rumor spreaders. Mary Rockwell is second and third in the middle row and Norman is at the end, first with a “Who? ME?!” expression, then giving what-for to the lady who started it all.
“Rosie the Riveter” – May 29, 1943
With the men fighting the war, women had to step up to the plate and keep factories, farms and offices going at home and this gal looks more than capable. She may have a dirty face, muscles and a crushed copy of Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” under her sensible shoe, but she’s still a girl at heart. A compact and ladylike hanky peak out from one pocket.
“The Baby Sitter” – November 8, 1947
After some search, Rockwell borrowed a big, strapping baby boy to paint from a neighbor. The artist wanted a big lusty wail, but Post editors informed viewers that “the baby was as good-natured as a kitten full of milk; he wouldn’t even frown.” The babysitter sat and waited. The artist sat and waited. They gave the boy a cookie and the uncooperative little sod was happier than ever.
Eventually, the tot dropped the cookie and let out a brief yell. Ready with his camera, Rockwell got the shot and had a photo of a squalling kid to paint from so he could finish his artwork. It was the only peep they had out of the baby the whole time.
This is a prime example of Rockwell’s enthusiasm for detail. The attention to the minutiae of the chair pattern and wallpaper is almost enough to make the viewer dizzy. It is easy to miss items like the open geometry book and soft drink the beleaguered lass may never get back to by the lamp. And ever the storyteller, the artist shows us that nearly everything has been tried: rattles, a bottle, a bear, a doll, a coloring book. Let’s hope her booklet, “Hints to the Babysitter,” has something useful to offer.
In conclusion, Norman Rockwell knew what he had to say and knew exactly how to portray that in Illustrations… He used to means of The Saturday Evening Post to his advantage and wasn’t afraid to do so. I look forward to viewing and researching more of Norman Rockwell’s illustrations with the Saturday Evening Post in the future.